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The Triathlete Hour Podcast: Tim Don Does Everything

Our chat with the Olympian, former world record holder, and "man with the halo" Tim Don.

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New podcast episodes, with interviews and news, drop on Wednesdays. Be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss anything: iTunes | Stitcher | Soundcloud | Spotify | iHeartRadio

You can also listen to past episodes with Holly Lawrence, Tim O’Donnell, Ben Hoffman, Flora Duffy, and Sarah True.

This week we have another all British show! We’re talking to Tim Don—the Olympian and former Ironman world record holder is maybe best known these days as “the man with the halo” (see the video below), after breaking his neck when he was hit by a car in Kona and spending months in a halo device that was screwed into his skull and held his neck in place. He came back from that to run the Boston Marathon and race Kona.

Now we talk about all the things he’s involved in: serving as a team captain for Super League, a back-up guide for the Paralympics, and don’t count him out yet at the age of 43, he’s training in the UK rain and getting ready for next year’s races.

He’s also a dad and his kids interrupt us a couple times, because they want to play!

We also first do a quick preview of the showdown going on this weekend at Ironman California and why the pros are battling for end-of-year rankings.

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For more from Tim, we hit him with a few quick questions:

This past spring, at the age of 43, you returned to short course racing by racing in the Super League Arena Games. How did this opportunity come about?

I had started racing the Z Pro Tri series on Zwift and was just loving it, so that was how it came about, and as there were so many travel restrictions it meant I was able to get a start. Was it fun? Oh yes, but my god it was full gas and so hard. I bloody loved it, especially the build-up and change of focus in my training, that was great and took me back to my roots of short-course racing. For me, coming off not much racing due to travel restrictions, it was just so good to get in a race and set me up for my 2021 season.

How did it feel to return to your short-course roots?

Was so much fun and I just loved hanging out with the young athletes reliving my short-course days. I will be honest, I am not the best pool swimmer, more of an open-water athlete getting involved in all the hustle and bustle, so I knew it would be hard for me. And those curve treadmills, oh my, they are so hard, max heart-rate kind of racing.

In what ways is racing short-course triathlon at 43 different from your younger years?

It hurts more and maybe I don’t quite have the top-end I did when I was younger. Also, in my preparation I needed to be fresher for the harder sessions, especially the run, and it took me longer to recover so the process was just great playing around with that with my coach.

You also served as a coach for the Super League Triathlon Eagles. What was that experience like for you?

Just amazing. I have had a blast the last four weeks helping guide the Eagles as best I can. Having a front row seat to some of the fastest most competitive racing we have ever seen, four weeks on the trot all over the world, just amazing. The Eagles did amazing, they really came together and were a team, building through the series. I really think the dynamics of team racing in the SLT is here to stay and will evolve even more in the coming years.

How did it feel to take the inaugural SLT Teams title?

Hey, let’s be honest it’s all the athletes. They are out there giving it 100% day-in, day-out, I was just on the side guiding them as best I can to execute a race-day best performance.

You’ve dominated in so many different ways in this sport, from short and fast racing to clocking one of the fastest-ever iron-distance times in history, and now, coaching. As you look back on your career, what are you most proud of?

For me I just love the sport, I really do. I am most proud of being a professional since 1997 to, well, 2021 and counting…..

What’s next for Tim Don?

Back to training and start to build up for the 2022 season. I am off to Sands Beach in Lanzarote for a camp in a few weeks and will build from there. I am hoping to race an early season Ironman, either IM South Africa or another one, followed by a full 70.3 season, but the pro Ironman calendar does not come out until December so I will have to wait and see. I am also continuing to be a mentor for the Zwift Triathlon Academy, as well as coaching a few athletes, which I really love. Also, I will be hopefully leading the Eagles to defend their title in an even bigger and faster 2022 SLT series!

This week’s episode is brought to you by Muc-Off, the world’s fastest race lube.